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NFL: Saints had bounty program funded by players, in last 3 seasons, to hurt opponents
League spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press on Sunday the NFL will be "addressing the issues raised as part of our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of the game."
Several players around the league have said the Saints and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams weren't the only ones with such a system. Former Redskins safety Matt Bowen said Williams had a similar bounty scheme when he was in Washington.
Aiello said the league would not comment on other reports. He added that the NFL will look at "any relevant info regarding rules being broken," saying that is "standard procedure."
Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh insisted on Sunday his team had no bounty program.
"We don't allow that," he said. "For me, personally, and I know my teammates, we don't want to put anybody out. Especially me, I would never want anybody to target me to take me out so why would I do it against somebody else?"
The Saints maintained a bounty pool of up to $50,000 the last three seasons, the NFL said. Payoffs came for inflicting game-ending injuries, among other events. The investigation by NFL security found that quarterbacks Brett Favre and Kurt Warner were among the players targeted. "Knockouts" were worth $1,500 and "cart-offs" $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs.
The NFL said the findings were corroborated by multiple, independent sources, and the pool amounts peaked in 2009, the year the Saints won the Super Bowl.
All payouts for specific performances in a game, including interceptions or causing fumbles, are against NFL rules. The NFL also warns teams against such practices before each season.
The league said 22 to 27 defensive players were involved in the program and it was administered by Williams, with the knowledge of coach Sean Payton.
"It was a terrible mistake," Williams said. "And we knew it was wrong while we were doing it."
No punishments have been handed out, but they could include suspension, fines and loss of draft picks.
Players contributed cash to the pool, at times large amounts, and in some cases the money pledged was directed against a specific person, the NFL said.
"The payments here are particularly troubling because they involved not just payments for 'performance,' but also for injuring opposing players," Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday in a statement. "The bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity."